Muslims in West Bengal celebrate Eid-ul-Azha amid sharp spike in Covid-19 cases



Amidst a sharp spike in coronavirus cases, India’s West Bengal state today witnessed a subdued celebration of Eid-ul-Azha as Muslims offered prayers at mosques and homes by maintaining social distancing.

As the lockdown restrictions have been eased outside containment zones, devotees in small numbers offered prayers in mosques across Kolkata. But the usual hustle and bustle associated with the festival was missing from traditionally Muslim areas of the city due to the pandemic.

According to the last census conducted in 2011, there are 24.6 million Muslims in West Bengal, that is about 27 per cent of the state’s total population.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wished the people on the occasion in a Facebook pictorial post.

Attired in traditional clothes, the young and the elderly gathered in small numbers at mosques to offer prayers, reports our New Delhi correspondent.

They avoided hugging and shaking hands with each other after the prayers to prevent the spread of the infection.

West Bengal Imams Association President Mohammed Yahia said all 26,000 mosque committees in the state have been asked to allow 25 devotees to enter their premises during morning prayers, barring a few located in containment zones.

The authorities made elaborate arrangements to sanitise the mosque premises and thermal screening of the faithful.

The fervour of Eid of the past years was missing from Zakaria Street, next to Nakhoda Mosque in north Kolkata, which bore a festive look during Eids past, with numerous food stalls and gift shops mushrooming on the road.

Many offered prayers with their families at home.

On the occasion of Eid, devotees performed the ritual of animal sacrifice with strict adherence to precautionary amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have asked everyone from the community to distribute meat among family members and close friends and not to anyone else keeping in mind the present situation,” Yahia said.

West Bengal’s Covid-19 total tally of cases crossed the 70,000-mark with a record single-day increase of 2,496 new cases till Friday while the total death toll rose to 1,581 with 45 more fatalities in the last 24 hours.

According to the last census conducted in 2011, there are 24.6 million Muslims in West Bengal, that is about 27 per cent of the state’s total population.

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